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Nova Scotia expands gathering limits for businesses, organizations – The Journal Pioneer

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Nova Scotia has further eased gathering limits on events held by businesses and organizations amid the continuing low rates of COVID-19 in the province. 

Effective July 3, outdoor gatherings organized by recognized businesses or organizations can host up to 250 people, while Indoor events will be restricted to 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 200 people. Physical distancing rules must be in place under both circumstances. 

The expanded gathering limits apply to social events, faith gatherings, weddings and funerals, and arts and culture events such as theatre performances,dance recitals, festivals and concerts.

“We’ve now had more than two weeks with no new cases of COVID-19, and Nova Scotians are getting back to normal activities while maintaining precautions,” said Premier Stephen McNeil in a news release. 

“Continuing the core measures of physical distancing and hand hygiene is how we will keep our case numbers low, especially as we increase gathering limits and welcome Atlantic Canadian visitors to Nova Scotia.”

Gatherings not run by a recognized business or organization, for example a family event in the backyard, are still subject to the 50-person maximum limit with physical distancing, unless you’re in your close social group of 10, the news release said. 

Other changes:

  • Effective immediately, restaurants and licensed liquor establishments can operate at 100 per cent capacity and serve patrons until midnight with appropriate distancing between tables. Patrons must leave by 1 a.m. They must continue to follow their sector plans

  • private campgrounds can operate at 100 per cent capacity. They must continue to follow their industry sector plan

  • public pools can reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes, and one or more groups of 10 for other activities based on pool size. They must follow the Nova Scotia Lifesaving Society plan for change rooms and washrooms. It will take municipalities and other public pools time to prepare for reopening 

  • people living in homes funded by disability support programs can resume going out into their communities, although it may take time for homes to make arrangements

Guidelines for these types of events are available here

People can continue to gather in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing, the release said. 

“People in a group are not required to be exclusive but they are strongly encouraged to maintain a consistent group. People should not gather in random or spontaneous groups of 10.”

Businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing can still have no more than 10 people on their premises at a time with as much physical distancing as possible.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, has returned to work after recovering from skin cancer surgery in New Brunswick. At a news conference with the premier Friday, he said he now strongly recommends that people wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible.

“If you go to a grocery store or some other kind of retailer, and if you’re in the mall, if you’re on a bus or if you’re going to gatherings, unless you can be a hundred per cent sure that that you’re going to be able to maintain distance, you should be having a medical mask and and and using that (mask).

“I cannot I can’t emphasize this enough, it’s critically important that people understand this, that the tools we have used to flatten the curve in the first wave are the same tools that we need to continue to apply to minimize the impact of any future appearance of COVID-19 and there will be appearance of COVID-19.” 

– Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health

“So it’s important that Nova Scotians have a medical mask, that they carry it with them at all times, and that they use it where when it’s necessary and appropriate.”

Strang said exceptions to this recommendation are children under two and people who have medical reasons for not wearing a mask. 

The premier admitted there have been times when he hasn’t worn a mask when he should have. 

“When someone is wearing a mask they are protecting me and others. So I need to do the same for them.”

Strang said it’s inevitable that COVID-19 will return to the province. Adhering to public health protocols such as physical distancing, respecting gathering rules, hand hygiene, cough etiquette and wearing a mask when distancing isn’t possible will allow us to contain those outbreaks. 

“It’s now as we as we strengthen and further open things it’s even more important to continue with the public health protocols,” he said. “And I cannot I can’t emphasize this enough, it’s critically important that people understand this, that the tools we have used to flatten the curve in the first wave are the same tools that we need to continue to apply to minimize the impact of any future appearance of COVID-19 and there will be appearance of COVID-19.” 

A microscopic image of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. – Postmedia News
A microscopic image of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. – Postmedia News

No new cases again

Earlier Friday, Nova Scotia announced it has extended the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic even though there have been no new cases since June 9.

The province is extending the emergency until July 12 to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotia, and ensure the safe re-opening of businesses and services. the Health Department said in a news release. 

The province has the option of terminating or extending the order further before that date. 

A batch of 468 tests conducted at the QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab all turned out negative. There are no active cases in the province. 

To date, Nova Scotia has 52,553 negative test results, 1,061 positive COVID-19 cases and 63 deaths. Nine-hundred and ninety-eight cases are now resolved. Two former COVID-19 patients remain in hospital being treated for other reasons. Neither are in intensive care.   

If you have any symptoms such as fever or worsening cough, and particularly if you have unusual symptoms such as red or purple lesions on your feet, toes or fingers,  visit https://811.novascotia.ca to determine if you should call 811 for further assessment. 

A full list of symptoms and other COVID-19 information is available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus.

Surgery schedule gets busier

In other COVID-19 news Friday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority said as of June 21, of the scheduled surgeries that were postponed as a result of the pandemic, 48 per cent have been completed or rescheduled.

The week before COVID-19 service changes began, surgeons completed 1,407 operations. But with only urgent, emergency and time-sensitive cancer surgeries taking place, these numbers dropped significantly over the past number of months, to roughly one-third of our normal surgery volumes, the NSHA said in a newsletter. 

“Our surgical teams have worked to prioritize cases and increase our capacity so that as many patients as possible can get the surgery they need,” the newsletter said. “We have made adjustments to how we deliver and schedule services to allow for more surgery, while maintaining COVID-19 precautions.”

The NSHA said it’s gradually increasing access to endoscopy services across its various sites. Between May 18-24, before the current service increase, 89 endoscopies were done, which represents about 12 per cent of the cases done in the same week last year. After services were expanded, between June 15 and June 21, 563 endoscopies were completed (65% of cases compared to the same week in 2019). That represents an increase of 532 per cent since service reintroduction began, the newsletter said. 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccines latest updates: Covaxin to be tested on 375 people in Phase I; Moderna delays final phase trials – The Indian Express

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By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: July 8, 2020 7:48:00 am

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccine Latest Update: A volunteer receives a COVID-19 test vaccine injection developed at the University of Oxford in Britain, at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg. (AP)

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccine Latest Update: China’s Sinovac Biotech has become the latest company to start Phase III trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in Brazil following a fast-track approval by regulators last week.

So far, the vaccine candidates being developed by AstraZeneca-University of Oxford and China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) are the only other jabs in late-stage trials. Moderna also plans to start its late-stage trial this month.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are 19 vaccine candidates currently in the clinical evaluation as of July 6. India’s own vaccine development efforts has gained pace, with Bharat Biotech planning to complete enrollment of Phase I trial participants by July 13 for its candidate Covaxin.

However, amid the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has cautioned that a shot to protect against the infection won’t work like the measles vaccine, which lasts throughout a person’s lifetime.

“You can assume that we’ll get protection at least to take us through this cycle. We may need a boost to continue the protection, but right now we don’t know how long it lasts,” Bloomberg quoted Fauci as saying.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine latest updates, status check


💉 Sinovac Biotech coronavirus vaccine status

Nearly five months after it initiated the development of a vaccine candidate, China’s Sinovac Biotech has started Phase III trials in Brazil. Sinovac will dose nearly 9,000 healthcare professionals working in Covid-19 specialised facilities, Reuters reported.

The study will be done in partnership with Brazilian vaccine producer the Instituto Butantan. Simultaneously, Sinovac is also preparing a coronavirus vaccine plant, which it hopes will be ready this year and capable of making up to 100 million shots a year.

Phase I and Phase II trials typically test the safety of a drug before it enters Phase III trials that test its efficacy.

Britain’s Prince William wears a mask as he meets scientists during a visit to the manufacturing laboratory where a vaccine against COVID-19 has been produced. (AP)

💉 Moderna coronavirus vaccine status

Moderna Inc, which was supposed to start phase III trials of its experimental mRNA-1273 Covid-19 vaccine on July 9, has delayed it for an indefinite period of time, a news report said.

The trial, part of the US government’s Operation Warp Speed, will involve 30,000 patients. In its June update, Moderna said the primary objective of the trial was to assess the ability of the vaccine to prevent symptomatic Covid-19 disease.

A report by STAT News said Moderna was making changes to the trial’s protocol, which has pushed back the expected start date. However, CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC the drugmaker still intended to start the trial in July.

Covaxin has been cleared for Phase-I and Phase-II trials by the Drug Controller General of India. (File)

💉 Bharat Biotech-ICMR Covaxin status

Covaxin, which has been cleared for Phase-I and Phase-II trials by the Drug Controller General of India, will be tested on more than 1,000 people in the two phases, Bloomberg reported. Jointly developed by ICMR and Bharat Biotech India Limited, Covaxin will be tested on 375 people in Phase I trial and on 750 people in the next phase. The company has set July 13 as the final date of enrollment for the trials.

Meanwhile, the process of conducting clinical trials for Covaxin began on Tuesday at the Nizams Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) in Hyderabad.

An investigator who is part of the trial said “immunogenicity” – the ability to provoke an immune reaction – will be the key aspect to be examined and which will decide if the trial can move from Phase I to II. Another investigator said the first phase was likely to take “at least three months”.

Covaxin is an “inactivated” vaccine — one made by using particles of the SARS-CoV-2 that were killed, making them unable to infect or replicate. Injecting particular doses of these particles builds immunity by helping the body create antibodies against the dead virus.

READ | All you need to know about Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin

💉 GSK-Sanofi coronavirus vaccine status

Human trials of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate being jointly developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline is set to begin in September. Sanofi is working on two possible COVID-19 vaccines, one of which uses an adjuvant made by GSK to potentially boost its efficacy.

Recently, a Reuters report said Britain was close to signing a 500 million pound ($624 million) supply deal with Sanofi and GSK for 60 million doses of its vaccine. The UK government has already landed a deal with AstraZeneca for 100 million doses of their vaccine candidate.

While Sanofi is contributing S-protein Covid-19 antigen based on its recombinant DNA technology, which is also used in its seasonal flu vaccine Flublok, GSK is offering its vaccine booster AS03 for their candidate.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Coronavirus Outbreak News, download Indian Express App.

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3 Reasons You Shouldn't Get Your Hopes Too High About COVID-19 Vaccines – Motley Fool

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A safe and effective vaccine would be a shot in the arm for a world that’s grown weary of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that there’s a lot of work going on to produce just such a vaccine. At least 19 novel-coronavirus vaccine candidates are now in clinical testing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Another 130 candidates are currently in preclinical trials.

But you shouldn’t get your hopes too high for COVID-19 vaccines. Here are three reasons why.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. The probability of success isn’t as great as you might think

Many Americans assume that regulatory approval of a vaccine is right around the corner. President Donald Trump even publicly suggested that a “vaccine solution” for COVID-19 will be available “long before the end of the year.” But these assumptions could be off-base.

WHO’s list of COVID-19 vaccines includes only one U.S.-made candidate in phase 2 testing. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) recently announced that its late-stage study of COVID-19 vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 would be delayed. The biotech still hopes to begin the trial in July, however. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) and its partner, the University of Oxford, are already recruiting for participants in a phase 3 study for their COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The probability of these or other vaccines being successful isn’t as great as you might think. Only around 24% of vaccines in phase 2 clinical testing go on to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration, according to a historical analysis conducted by biopharmaceutical trade group BIO. That percentage jumps to 74% for vaccines in phase 3 testing. But that’s still a 1-in-4 chance of failure.

2. COVID-19 vaccines might not be as effective as you expect

Even if one or more COVID-19 vaccines win FDA approval, they might not be as effective as you’d expect. Why? The bar isn’t all that high when it comes to efficacy.

Last week, the FDA issued guidelines for its review and approval process for COVID-19 vaccine candidates. To be considered effective, a vaccine only has to “prevent disease or decrease its severity in at least 50% of people who are vaccinated.”

This threshold isn’t unusual for the first vaccines against a virus for which no vaccines currently exist. However, it also means that there’s a real possibility that among those who receive a COVID-19 vaccine, nearly half won’t be effectively immunized against the novel coronavirus.

3. Many Americans will refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine

Michael Jordan once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” He was, of course, referring to basketball. However, the idea is also relevant to COVID-19 vaccines.

A survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in May found that only 49% of Americans said that they planned to get vaccinated if a vaccine against the novel coronavirus becomes available. That number isn’t too surprising, considering that it’s roughly in line with the percentage of American adults who get the flu vaccine.

It’s possible that more Americans would want to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, though. Another 31% of the survey respondents stated that they weren’t sure about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. However, if the percentage of Americans who refuse to be immunized isn’t high enough, even an effective vaccine won’t be enough to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Still a big opportunity

The probabilities for approval, efficacy, and potential immunization rates don’t paint an encouraging picture. However, there’s still a chance that one or more COVID-19 vaccines that are highly effective will win regulatory approval and gain widespread public acceptance.

And there’s still a big opportunity for investors hoping that coronavirus-focused biotech stocks pay off in a huge way. For example, even though its shares have tripled so far this year, Moderna would almost certainly soar even higher if mRNA-1273 is successful in late-stage testing.

Any vaccine that’s safe and effective enough to secure approval will help in the fight against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines might not be the magic bullet that many hope for. But combined with new treatments and better testing, they could be part of an overall arsenal that enables the world to move past the pandemic and return to normal.

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Airborne coronavirus spread: Five things to know – Al Jazeera English

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More than seven months after the new coronavirus was first detected, scientists and health experts are still trying to get a better understanding of how it spreads and how to curb the COVID-19 respiratory disease it causes.

The coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission”, including direct contact with someone who has been infected, indirect contact with contaminated surfaces, droplets of saliva from coughing or discharge from the nose when sneezing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Airborne transmission is also possible, but its effects and risks have recently sparked a scientific debate.

What is airborne transmission?

The WHO has long said the new coronavirus spreads mainly through small droplets released from the mouth and nose that fall from the air in a short period.

But some scientists and researchers are increasingly pointing out to evidence that the virus can also be transmitted by even smaller droplets called aerosols. Usually generated when people are shouting and singing, these remain suspended in the air for longer and can travel farther.

How is it different from droplet transmission?

The respiratory droplets sneezed or coughed out are larger in size – a diameter of five to 10 micrometres – and the range of exposure is one to two metres (three to six feet).

Aerosols, however, are less than five micrometres in diameter and travel beyond two metres from the infected individual.

“The new coronavirus can survive in both droplets and aerosol for up to three hours under experimental conditions, although this depends on temperature and humidity, ultraviolet light and even the presence of other types of particles in the air,” Stephanie Dancer, a consultant medical microbiologist in the UK, told Al Jazeera.

“Microscopic aerosols can project at least six metres in indoor environments, and possibly even further if dynamic air currents are operating. The distance depends upon how large the aerosol is.”

Animation: How does coronavirus behave?

How is COVID-19 spreading through the air?

As in droplet transmission, aerosols can be released in several ways including, breathing, talking, laughing, sneezing, coughing, singing and shouting.

“Breathing would not offer much projectile force, but shouting, singing, coughing and sneezing project aerosol through the air with a range of different velocities,” said Dancer.

“Even if one individual particle does not contain enough virus to cause infection, if you carry on breathing in these particles over time, you will acquire enough in your mouth, nose and respiratory tract to initiate infection.”

Airborne transmission can also occur in certain medical procedures that involve the patient generating aerosols, putting healthcare workers particularly at risk.

“Coronavirus can be spread by aerosol under special circumstances if using nebulisers, bronchoscopy, intubation, dental and other oral procedures using suction and lavage,” said Naheed Usmani, president of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA).

“This is particularly dangerous for healthcare workers who should only attempt these procedures wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks,” she told Al Jazeera. 

Is airborne COVID-19 less contagious?

The extent to which the coronavirus can be spread by the aerosol route – as opposed to by larger droplets – remains disputed.

While the WHO has long maintained that the primary source of infection is through droplet transmission, it has acknowledged there was “emerging evidence” of airborne transmission.

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“The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings – especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out,” Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said in a news briefing this week.

This came after a group of 239 scientists from 32 countries and a variety of fields made the case in an open letter that there was a “real risk” of airborne transmission, especially in indoor, enclosed and crowded environments without proper ventilation.

Dancer, who was one of the signatories of the letter, said there is a lower risk of catching the virus the further you are from the source.

Jose-Luis Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado, also told Al Jazeera the “virus loses infectivity over a period of an hour or so indoors”.

How can you protect yourself?

Wearing face masks properly and maintaining physical distancing are recommended at all times.

Experts also recommend avoiding crowded places, especially public transport and public buildings.

In closed spaces at schools, offices and hospitals, increasing proper ventilation with outdoor air by opening windows can also mitigate the risk of infection, Jimenez said.

“For spaces where ventilation cannot be increased, we recommend portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter air cleaners or possibly ultraviolet (UV) germicidal lights at the high end of need. We do not recommend other types of air cleaners.”

Follow Saba Aziz on Twitter: @saba_aziz

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